VALDOSTA — Nan Pope Allen recalls when what would become Valdosta State University had only three buildings, an all-female student population, and most of those students had to have a chaperone whether they “went to church or went to town.”
The 97-year-old VSU alum recently visited her alma mater, taking a tour of VSU’s 100-year-old history in the archives museum. Family friends Lee and Brenda Hatcher arranged the tour led by VSU Archivist Deborah Davis.
Having graduated in 1930 when VSU was the Georgia State Woman’s College at Valdosta, Nan Pope Allen is believed to be the oldest, living, local alum of the university. Davis says there is a 100-year-old alum known to live in North Georgia.
Commenting on the growth at VSU in the past 76 years, Allen says, “It has been amazing. I wouldn’t know where to start, so much of it has changed. There is no comparison.”
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Pope, she has lived in Valdosta since the age of 4. Since she grew up in Valdosta and lived with her parents while attending college, the chaperone rule didn’t apply to her.
She was pleased to attend an all-girls school. “I was always timid and the boys had teased me badly in high school. So I didn’t want to put up with them,” Allen says.
While a student, she didn’t believe the college taught enough math courses. The young Nannie Pope let her opinions be known. In her senior year, a teacher wanted to teach calculus and approached Nannie. The student rose to the challenge. “She taught us calculus, but they still didn’t have enough math classes so I majored in history.”
A 1930 edition of the college’s Pine Cone yearbook features photographs of Nannie Pope posed in portrait and in graduation gown and mortarboard. It lists her degree in education. The yearbook also lists her achievements and activities: Valdosta Club, Phi Kappa Athletic Association, Sororian Literary Society 1928-’29, ’29-’30, International Relations Club which she served as president from 1929-’30, Presidents’ Club.